Monday, April 5, 2010


As modern scribes, I think we have it pretty easy. We have the option to move entire chunks of text around, delete asinine sentences, copy entire chunks, cut, paste... You name it.

That said, though, I remember as a kid typing on my mom's electric IBM and I have to admit, it was pretty rad. Sure, I made scores of mistakes, used White-Out like a champ and my tabs were an ungodly mess -- but as young as I was, I knew it was romantic.

Hell... On my college paper, we filed our pieces on electric typewriters and I felt energized doing it. That wouldn't last, however. The Commodore 64, OsCom PC, AT&T personal computer and the countless PCs to follow have changed the way I write. For better or worse.

Every time I take the 'delete' key for granted, I think of Papa H, Kerouac or even Buk, sitting in their lonely room, huddled over their old Remington. Every now and then I try to imagine their face if I showed them what my $99 HP inkjet could do.

Someone once said that Bukowski sent out hundreds of poems without carbons to scores of "little magazines" and then I think, "Jesus... The stuff he wrote that we've never even seen. Man..."

If only he had a PC to save them.

Given the hardware, would "The Masters" easily jump into our modern writing world? or would they stay safe, in their smoke-filled den of creativity... The clickity-clack of the keys solidifying their legacy... I wonder

Celebrating the legacy of these old machines, check out this cool link highlighting gorgeous shots of vintage typewriters. You can almost smell the ink...


  1. I love old typewriters. They are beautiful. I have a pendant made from an old backspace key. I am glad, though, that I don't have to use one. Your post does raise some interesting questions.

  2. I still collect and use them. My current machine is a brand new IBM Selectric III that was in storage since 1983 still in the original box. Once oiled it ran perfectly and is my daily machine. I have scores of others as well and two more Selectric's. The romance never faded for me.

  3. My first hunt & peck experience was on an ibm selectric with a ball, i thought that was pretty cool, it had the erase-o-type ribbon in a cartridge that you popped out when you hit the back space - no globby white here...I'm dating myself..

  4. I share your nostalgia. I remember tapping buttons and watching the little letter feet clap its black print on paper. Fascinating.

    I can not imagine the presicion the writers back in the day must have had. I believe, in the late 1800's, most novels were written in increments. I often wondered if it was fad or simply because it was easier to type out a 2-3 k at a time vs our 60-100k.

    Great post, Anthony.


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